Food for thought Prt 19
I wonder if the same people that are so obsessed with the death penalty, the need for revenge and continue to promote executions in the name of saving society, would use that same enthusiasm and Unite against finding a cure for cancer, ending poverty or racial inequality or even war, instead of judicial killing. The same right-wing extremist that speaks out against abortion, same sex marriages, etc. that go on picking and choosing what morals to stress and which to ignore. What human being has the right to undertake the high justice of paying blood for blood, especially when these same crooked politicians are routinely caught every other day in all sorts of unsavoury rotten stuff, showing everybody how selective their morality really is. We as a society need to demand from our elected officials to put our money and resources to better use. There are people in our communities sleeping in the streets, people that don’t have enough to eat, just to name a few things that should be a priority on the agenda to get fixed. Wasting tax payer money on judicial killing when there are so many more important things to do is crazy. The same right-wing extremist that continue to push for the death penalty and other hateful acts like war, while policing the world, continue to vote on bills and measures to stop public funding for “Planned Parenthood” and “National Public Radio” and on and on. There isn’t enough money in the budget for those things, but plenty of money to fund wars all over the world. Plenty of money to drop million dollar bombs on Libya or any other country they decide they want a regime change, so they can control. Sure we all want our elected officials to protect our nations’ interest, protect us from terrorist , etc. but we also can’t afford to police the world, we often stress the fact that it’s wrong for dictators to oppress their people, but often it appears that we are becoming the “big dictator of the world.”
We criticize Iran, Iraq, Libya, and others for oppressing their people, but we are quick to forget our own oppression in the U.S. They want you to forget all about the U.S, treatment in the sixties of the protesters, during the Vietnam war, including the shooting of 13 students at Kent State University on May 4th 1970, by members of the Ohio National Guard, which fired more than 60 rounds in 13 seconds, into a group of college students, resulting in the death of four.
In a previous article (prt 12) I’ve already talked about how civil rights peaceful protesters were beaten, tear gassed, attacked and beaten by police dogs, every major city in the U.S during the civil rights movement, so I won’t go back into it again, right now, but these chumps are cold blooded hypocrites. They quote God, the Bible and all kinds of scriptures when making the point on their anti-abortion agenda. They speak out about all kinds of right-to-life measures, but all of that goes out the window when they push for judicial killing. I wonder if it’s because of the class of people normally sentenced to death or long prison terms. Yes, I’m again talking about poor whites and people of color. I wonder if class and race come into play??? Those same right wing extremist what continues to be selective in their right-to-life agenda, giving sermons about killing babies and inciting crazy people to kill doctors and others working in legally protected clinics that perform abortions.
One of the things wrong with this picture is, the majority of these right-wing extremist are hypocrites. All of the concern about saving human life goes out the window as soon as the child is born. They continue to make laws that will stop any kind of aid, help or support for the poor and needy. Most of them have the “I got mine, get yours any way you can, but not with tax dollar mentality” They care absolutely nothing about a right to life, after birth!! I repeat, any program designed to help the poor is rejected by those same right-wing extremist that continue to holler about right to life issues.
TO BE CONTINUED…INTENSIFY THE STRUGGLE
Food for Thought (prt 20)
I previously discussed some of the things that made our jury-selection process lopsided and unfair in favour of obtaining convictions, but haven’t yet talked about how the state is allowed to use death-qualified juries, in capital cases, which many legal experts think is unconstitutional on it’s face, but at the very least certainly tips the scale towards conviction and a death sentence. Study after study has revealed and concluded that death qualified jurors’ are prone to convict. It’s well established that a jurors attitude toward the d.p trusting prosecutors, etc. is one of the most powerful things in the minds of already predisposed in favour of the prosecutor for conviction.
Let me back up for a minute and explain exactly what a death-qualified juror is. Any prospective juror is asked certain questions to find out if he or she is qualified to serve on a capital murder case trial. If they reveal that they can’t vote to sentence a person to death, under any circumstances, following the law presented to them by the judge, they are automatically excluded from serving on the jury. In other words they have to say they can vote for death and it would not effect their deliberations in anyway.
Study after study has also revealed that those in favour of the d.p and have no problem getting on these juries are much too often anxious to vote for somebody to be executed are die-hard conservatives believing there aren’t any flaws in our system, prosecutors will not use perjured testimony, lie, withhold evidence, etc. or any of the things I continue to point out.
The main problem with capital cases being left with a death-qualified jury is after all the people that are excluded that aren’t of that strong conservative view about the d.p. much too often what’s left can be equated to a lynch-mob, ready to convict and execute.!! This is another reason why death rows around the country and prisons in general are filed to the brim. Another reason our prisons are filled to the brim is it’s become a priority for some of our elected officials. Just recently Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett addressed a 4 billion dollar budget deflect by slashing spending by 52% in higher education. Most people acknowledge the fact that there is a need for tightening our belts, joining together in times of a crisis, making harsh choices, etc. but at the same time this cut-off money to our public school, colleges and universities, he increased the budget for the Dept. of Corrections by 115 million dollars!!!! Where are his priorities, and more importantly, why are the citizens in this state not outraged. They certainly should make their feelings known at the next election. Common sense should dictate that the education of our children should have a priority over locking up and warehousing people, many for petty crimes that aren’t a big treat to society. This is the mentality of some of our elected officials that try to keep getting re-elected using that so-called tough on crime rhetoric.
This is one of the reasons death rows around the country and prisons in general are filled to the brim. Pennsylvania already has a lifer population of about 4,500, nearly 11% of its entire prison population and the juvenile lifer population is close to 11%of the overall lifer population. That’ crazy!!!! In this state life really means life. It meant that way before this new sentencing thing came out, (life without the possibility of parole) They aren’t trying to let lifers out, until they die and now the commutation process requires the full boards approval, not just a simple majority before it even gets to the Governor’s desk. No woner there have only been 3 lifers sentence commuted the last 16 years. thats Crazy!!!
The Innocent Project founded by leading civil rights attorneys Peter Newfeld and Barry Scheck is responsible for most of the post convictions DNA exonerations in the U.S. Well over 200 since they started. That’s why it’s so crazy why they continue to act stupid about using the d.p. in this country. There are many horror stories about the injustices received, not only because of all the wasted years behind bars for a crime committed by someone else, but the actual killer remains free to continue to commit crimes, Plus many of the wrongfully convicted receive other injustices while in prison.
In 1988 a woman working in a Texas pizza hut was robbed, raped and shot in the head. Richard Danziger and Chris Ocha were convicted and served 12 years of a life sentence, before DNA exonerated them and were released, by then Danziger had been viciously attacked in prison by inmates, kicked in the head sustaining serious brain damage. He now suffers from seizures, mental problems, that require people to care for him daily. This is just another example of a failed criminal justice system!!! This is just one case of many of the people released from prison, after serving a bunch of years for a crime they were innocent of, but there are hundreds more innocent people on death row and in the general prison population, as I speak!! TO BE CONTINUED
The struggle continues!!!
Food for Thought Part 21
ALL WHITE JURIES
I think it’s important to discuss a very serious problem in our judicial system, where our legislators and officers of the court feel it’s alright to use “all white juries” when there is a black defendant in a murder trial or when a white person is accused of killing a black person. There should be a law against this practice. Normally, when I’m criticizing the flaws in our justice system, I try not to make race so much of an issue or dwell upon how blacks are getting jerked around, because most of the injustices effect all races and also because it turns a lot of people off and that’s the last thing I want to do, especially since the majority of the people in this country and overseas that are leading the fight against the D.P. and other injustices in our system are white..
Anyway, some of the things that are allowed to happen, such as these all white juries, in situations that I’ve mentioned, seriously impair the fairness, integrity and public reputation of the judicial proceedings.
I’ll concede that this country has come a long way, since the beginning, but it still has a long way to go, in regard to race relations and it reflects and has a bearing in our legal system. Some of us will not admit it, but there is still a large element in this society that has racist attitudes and display it every chance they get. A perfect example of this just happened in January 2011, right after President Obama made a comment about a black football player (Michael Vick) saying he deserved a 2nd chance to go on with his life after being convicted, sentenced and imprisoned for about 2 years for killing and torturing dogs while using them in dog fights. Anyway, Tucker Carlson, a right –wing extremist commentator told a “Fox news panel” that not only is Michael Vick undeserving of a 2nd chance, he should have been executed. There is a pattern of racist comments daily on Fox news. This is just another example of the neo-conservative right-wing extremist propaganda on Fox news network that is too often racist!!! Getting back to these all white juries, a while back they executed Lena Baker in Georgia, which later was considered a travesty and miscarriage of justice after they convicted her of killing a old white man, she worked for as a nurse and maid. He repeatedly raped and beat her. All of this came out in court but fell on deaf ears to an all white jury. She was vindicated and pardoned in 2005!!!
In reverse, but still concerning an all white jury, a black man in Picken, South Carolina was accused of killing a white cab driver. He was removed from jail by a mob, taken to a neighboring Greenville county, beaten, stabbed and shot in the face. After an investigation 31 men were rounded up and charged. Despite confessions from 26 of them, they all were acquitted by an all white jury!! This is only two stories out of thousands that jump-off in this country on a regular basis and our legislators continue to allow it. How can they not feel it’s a problem? In this so-called best judicial system in the world!!!
In a 1st degree murder case, where the stakes are so high, why is it so hard to understand that when the defendant is black it isn’t O.K to have an all white Jury. Think about it for a minute, if you are a white person; If you were on trial or a family member was on trial for killing a black person and there was an all black jury, how would you feel? There isn’t anything fair about a system designed to jerk around any segment of our society.
Many in America are still in denial as to the fact that racism still exist and shows it’s ugly face in our judicial system regularly. The KKK, an organized hate group, responsible for thousands of lynching’s and murders is allowed to march our streets in parades, after they get a parade permit. They are protected by 1st amendment rights of freedom of speech, protest and assemble, etc. Some members of the Tea party come to their rallies with posters of President Obama equated to a monkey or with a bone in his nose appearing as an African warrior, like in an old Tarzan movie. Other members of the Tea Party try to brush it off or justify it by saying it’s only a few of their members, but it has to be condone by the rest of them since they continue to allow it to jump-off!!! It it wasn’t condoned it would not be allowed to happen. There is still a lot of racism not only in this country but in our courtrooms.
I can go on and on for pages talking about this but I won’t but I can’t overemphasize how devastating it is for a black defendant, accused of killing a white person, sitting in a courtroom with an all white jury deciding your fate. It not only looks like a lynch mob sitting there in the jury box, sadly often it really is!.
As you know, in a criminal law system in which a single biased juror can prevent a deserved conviction or a deserved acquittal, the importance of this matter should be minimized-the jury should always be the fairest possible and it’s about time this practice of assembling an all white jury to sit in judgment of a black defendant needs to be put to an end….
TO BE CONTINUED…. Intensify the Struggle
Food for Thought Part 22
Normally, there are 7 justices seated on the Pennsylvania Supreme court. Generally, most of them are retired prosecutors or had a long career serving as a prosecutor in the commonwealth of Pa, before being elected to serve on the state supreme court. Most of them have a prosecutor mentality embedded in their system and too many of them continue to act like a prosecutor when deciding cases, when they should be neutral arbitrators. This is the situation with Chief Justice Ronald Castille.
In a recent Pa. Supreme Court opinion (Com. V. Spotz 576 CAP) He went on and on ranting and raving for almost 30 pages in a concurring death penalty opinion, mostly about his concerns that the federal defenders were abusing the court in their appeals. At one point he acknowledged a capital PCRA petitioner, if indigent, is entitled to PCRA counsel at state expense, but complained over and over about capital defendants being represented zealously. He should have also rant and raved for the same amount of tie and space about the improper funding for indigent representation, but he appears to care less about that. The money allowed a person litigating for his or her life is “mere peanuts” and he not only knows it perfectly well, but also condones it, because of the die-hard prosecutor stance and mentality embedded in his being. He constantly continues to accuse the federal defenders of trying to obstruct capital punishment in pa. And questions their professional responsibility, but his real problem is, he doesn’t want any advocacy on behalf of the indigent defendants, especially any “zealous advocacy.”
He spends a lot of his time in that opinion engaging in a vicious name calling campaign with attacks like “whether lawyer death penalty abolitionist like It or not, the people of Pa. Have spoken on capital punishment” it’s interesting how he wants to end any federal representation in the state courts because he feels the counties are out-gunned and don’t have the resources to compete, but doesn’t have any problem with defendants being out-gunned at the trial court level, by the vast overwhelming resources of the commonwealth. He wants the counties to appoint all lawyers, so they can be controlled by the state to do it’s biding. It’s a little better now since rule 801 (two lawyers with experience in murder cases) laws and rules are now in place to ensure better representation, but 20 years ago when my case was tried, lawyers were often inexperienced and too often overmatched!! To this day, capital case lawyers are under funded and under paid. They use to get $500 to hire an expert and $500 for an investigator, What kind of expert can you get with $500 and what can get investigated for $500, thats crazy.
Castille’s constant remarks about the federal defenders using “serial PCRA Petitions” is disingenuous to say the least, because he very well knows it’s well established law that, for example, if there is “newly discovered evidence” a 2nd or 3rd PCRA is required to give the state court a chance to address the issue, so it is preserved for federal review. This guy slings around the term “unethical” fairly easy when he’s applying it to someone else,but when you know the established law and rules of court and you deliberately make statements accusing others of using “serial PCRA petitions” WHOSE ETHICS SHOULD BE QUESTIONED???
This chump makes bold and outrageous accusations that the federal lawyers are trying to undo a perfectly good conviction, instead of arguing issues with merit, but he deliberately chooses to ignore all the crooked and foul stuff the prosecutor does in order to get these convictions. Exactly what does he feel a defense lawyer is suppose to do, well the law and constitution requires a defense lawyer to brief, argue and appeal all issues of merit, while testing and challenging all the evidence that was used to convict.
This guy is a real trip he wants the Pennsylvania supreme court to take formal measures to ensure quicker decisions in capital cases to speed up executions. Keep in mind all the stories of DNA proving they convicted the wrong person and other stories of continued injustices, he still wants this and the scary part about it is, there are so many more people of the same caliber infested in our judicial system.
To be continued…. Power to the Struggle!!!